18 November 2021
President Joe Biden visited an auto factory in Detroit, Michigan, earlier this week to bring attention to the push for electric vehicles.
Old auto factories in the United States have to be updated in order to build cars with electric motors and parts needed for the change.
Biden supports legislation that increases government spending in many areas in the U.S. called the Build Back Better Act. Currently, it includes billions of dollars to help renovate old factories and aid the communities that grew up around them.
The proposed bill includes $3.5 billion to change the old factories to build electric and fuel cell vehicles. There is $3 billion for an auto loan program that should help people buy new electric cars. There also is a plan to have government agencies buy electric cars. The total cost of all the proposals might be $50 billion.
Biden went to a factory known as "Factory Zero" on Wednesday. It is operated by automaker General Motors, GM, which opened it 1985. It will be the company's first to be updated to make electric cars. There are 21 GM factories in the United States.
Gerald Johnson is the head of global manufacturing for GM. Johnson said the factory is flexible, meaning it will be able to change based on markets, laws and spending.
If Americans start buying more electric cars, Johnson said, GM wants to be prepared. He said GM is planning to make more electric cars no matter what happens in Congress. "It does not change what we are doing," he said.
Biden looked at the first Hummer electric vehicles during his visit to the factory. Hummers are based on military vehicles and cost over $100,000. They sold well in the past but use a lot of fuel. By 2025, GM wants 20 percent of its cars to be electric. Five years later, the company wants that number to reach 50 percent.
GM will be competing with companies like Tesla. In 2020, Tesla, started by businessman Elon Musk, had 80 percent of the electric vehicle market in the U.S. Tesla's main production center is in Texas.
Mike Tracy heads a company that studies manufacturing. He said GM is trying to enter the electric vehicle market and keep workers in their jobs.
Beginning-level GM factory workers earn about $56,000 per year. That is more than at Tesla. As the electric vehicle market grows, Johnson said, the 21 factories in the U.S. will help the company grow.
GM said it can save up to $15 billion by 2030 by renovating the old factories instead of building new ones in other states. He called having many existing factories "an asset, not an anchor."
In a speech, Biden said: "We're going to make sure the jobs of the future end up in Michigan, not halfway around the world."
I'm Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by Reuters. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
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Words in This Story
renovate – v. to make changes and repairs to (an old house, building, room, etc.) so that it is back in good condition
global – adj. involving the entire world
asset – n. something of value
anchor – n. a heavy device on a boat or ship held by a rope or chain that is thrown into the water to hold the boat or ship in place; a person or thing that provides strength and support